Five Arab nations have severed diplomatic ties with 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar over accusations of embracing and funding Islamist terrorism.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen have cut diplomatic ties with the Gulf state over its “embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilising the region”.
The nations have announced the immediate withdrawal of all their diplomatic staff from the capital Doha and said they will eject Qatari diplomats from their countries before closing off their borders to Qatar.
The Qatari foreign affairs ministry insists there is “no legitimate justification” for the countries’ decision, calling it a “violation of its sovereignty” – but the move is likely to cause further problems and embarrassment for FIFA.
The Qatar World Cup bidding process has already been investigated by the FBI and Swiss authorities on allegations of corruption and bribery, and the country has been widely criticised for human rights abuses on workers building the tournament’s infrastructure.
The competition has also been moved to the winter because of the impracticality of holding it there in the summer.
As well as the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar is due to host the 2019 World Athletics Championships, though they failed with their bid to host the 2020 Olympics.
In a statement, FIFA said: “We are in regular contact with and have spoken to the Qatar 2022 Local Organizing Committee and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy handling matters relating to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
“We have no further comments for the time being.”